Sunday, 29 May 2016

Finding Time to Stop and Stare ...

More pictures than words - I am too tired to think. :)

As I am working in the kitchen garden I stop and look over the back fields where the hedgerows are full of hawthorn blossom as though laden with snow.

The kitchen garden where I grow flowers in amongst the vegetables
The view from the back door up the garden path
I want the garden to have a wild feel - one of careful neglect - this border
seems to sum it up beautifully

The wildlife pond where frogs and newts reside
The greenhouse where many a happy hour is spent sowing seeds, taking cuttings
and potting up plants

And when I have finished looking at the bigger picture
I notice the little things - a Tiger Moth caterpillar
in amongst the foliage

 At the end of a hard day I look out over the back fields to see an amazing sunset - and think just how lucky I am to live in such beautiful surroundings.

p.s.  On the home front, stage one -  workmen will be coming on Tuesday to re-plaster the walls - yippee!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Pay Attention; Be Astonished ...

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
~ Mary Oliver
 One day earlier this week D spotted a Red Kite gliding over the hills as he was returning home in the car.  He rushed in, collected his camera and binoculars, and decided to walk back down the road to try and photograph it.  No such luck; the Kite had hit the thermals and was long gone.  But, after living with me and my exclamations of  'Oo look' when I spot something on one of our walks - the habit seems to have rubbed off on him and he came back with some lovely pictures of the surrounding countryside and wild flowers which he didn't know the name of.  I have trained him to be observant - I have trained him well.  My work here is done :).

The flowers were Corn Marigolds which, because of the use of herbicides, you don't see very often any more - I was well pleased with his find.

As for me - well, I have been walking in the rain, breathing the sweet fragrance of the May blossom and loving the sprinkling of buttercups and Queen Anne's Lace in the hedgerows, and of course, taking a multitude of pictures of the garden for your delectation and delight.

D spotted a rare visitor to the garden the other day - a Yellowhammer - and managed to get a quick snap of it before it flew away.

I was going to try and do a movie of the garden for you - but it wasn't very skilful, a bit wobbly - and I felt slightly embarrassed talking to myself, so that my voice came out in a whisper that was barely audible - I also had trouble loading it - so, not one of my better ideas.


p.s. On the home front - good news for us - the de-humidifiers have now been removed and we have been declared ready for the next stage of operations.  It has taken two months to reach this stage.  At this rate the work should be finished sometime before the end of the decade :)

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Flower Posy in a Jam Jar ...

My flower posies used to be a regular feature on the blog - a good way to show off what is flowering in the garden each month.  But, of late, I have been rather distracted; neglectful of the blog and blogging; generally not putting in as much effort as I would like; letting things drift. I have a feeling of restlessness; of something missing that I can't quite put my finger on.  It has been five years today that I began the blog, so running out of ideas to keep the blog fresh is no surprise.

Yet, I still enjoy my little space in blogland, and don't want to stop writing here; I am just struggling a little at the moment, which I am sure happens to the best of us at times.

So here I am with the old standby, the flower posy.  Garden pinks, bluebells, columbine and forget-me-nots - my first picking from the garden this year.  In previous years I have featured the early bulbs; daffodils and tulips - but I didn't even think of picking them this year - I guess I have had other things on my mind.

This week my time has been taken up with all the gardening chores that must be done at this time of year; it has been full steam ahead and I have had very little chance to think of anything other than what needs doing next.

The week before we had a wonderful thunderstorm.
The day was hot and humid.  I planted nine tomato plants out in the ground and erected a tent cloche over them for protection.  We dragged the patio table and chairs out of their winter storage, gave them a quick rub down with teak oil and I sat out under the umbrella reading 'The Orchardist' another of my favourite novels.  Then the sky went as dark as a bruised plum; lightning forked and thunder rumbled and the rain came down; lightly at first, then in torrents.  Wonderful.  I stood at the open French windows watching and listening to the sound of the rain on the umbrella, watching the drips and pools it made on the pond.  A summer storm is a fabulous thing.

And lastly, this is my pride and joy.  An Auricula, grown from a cutting that a blogging friend sent me last year.  I worried and fussed over the winter hoping that it would survive - and here is the proof that it did and is flowering beautifully.

"Every day of this wonderful season of growth seems precious.  Most of us experience moments when we succumb to gloom about the prospects for our country, our children's and grandchildren's lives.  But then a weekend such as this one shows off to perfection the awesome beauty of Britain, which triumphs over foreign enemies and politicians alike.  A May morning amid sunshine and blossom feels as good as anything we could ask for." ~ Max Hastings (journalist)


Monday, 9 May 2016

Heaven is an English Woodland on a Sunny Day in May ...

Early this morning D asked if I fancied going to Swithland Woods which is at the northern end of the county.  We live at the southern end.  It entails a drive right across town and near to where I used to live.  We hadn't been to the woods since my Dad died; some 15 or more years ago; mainly because we used to visit him every weekend and always stopped off at the woods to give the dog a run.

This is me in the woods in 1986.

So much had changed on the journey there, buildings had vanished; new ones had risen; roads changed; small roads turned into dual carriageways; it was awful - I didn't recognize anything or even know where I was at times.

But eventually 40 minutes later we reached the woods and it was like coming home.  As we walked further in I knew where the old trails were, the bridle paths and ridings; remembered that it used to be an old slate quarry and the lake that had formed from the quarry workings (now fenced off with razor wire).  It all came back in a flurry of  familiar memories that had been hidden in the recesses of my mind for a long time.

It is not known as a bluebell wood but there were plenty about in the open glades where the dappled sun shone through.  Seeing the trees again was like greeting old friends who wondered where I had been for so long.

I fell in love with the woods all over again - I'll be back I silently told them as we left.  I'll be back - not tomorrow, or the next day, but soon.  How could I have forgotten you.


Friday, 6 May 2016

On Home Ground ...

The distant hills are calling me but I have to turn my back and put my nose to the grind stone.  I have hardly stepped beyond the garden gate all week.   As any of you who are gardeners know, there is so much to do at this time of year.  Certainly no time for exploring and trailing the hills.  Little by little the hedgerows are greening and leaves unfurling on the trees.  The weather has warmed up considerably and soon I will only be venturing out in the dew-pearled morning and in the cool of the evening - the heat of the summer doesn't suit me and I stay in the shadows.

This week sees me 'under the weather' with a heavy cold; hot one minute; cold the next - bundling under blankets or streaming with perspiration - feverish.  My throat is sore from coughing and my head pounds and my nose red enough to give Rudolph serious competition.  But there is no time to linger in bed feeling sorry for myself - I have seedlings and young plants to attend to if I want the garden to be decorative and productive for the coming season.

Any spare time I have had I have been re-reading 'Cold Mountain' which I have to say is one of my favourite novels.  The prose is exquisite, so descriptive that it just carries me away, back to a time when everyday was one of survival against the odds.

As I work the garden is full of birdsong and blossom - it really is a delight and my favourite time of year without a doubt.  The early spring bulbs have all but finished flowering now and the summer pots have been filled and waiting in readiness in the greenhouse. 

And when I feel my old self again and this wretched cold has run its course I hope to once again enjoy roaming the countryside looking for adventures new.

Apologies to all those I haven't visited this week - please feel free to admonish me - guilty as charged.